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The Fighter's Mind: Inside the Mental Game

4.11  ·  Rating details ·  1,218 Ratings  ·  102 Reviews
In his acclaimed national best seller, "A Fighter s Heart," Sam Sheridan took readers with him as he stepped through the ropes into the dangerous world of professional fighting. From a muay Thai bout in Bangkok to Rio, where he trained with jiu-jitsu royalty, to Iowa, where he matched up against the toughest in MMA, Sheridan threw himself into a quest to understand how and ...more
Hardcover, 283 pages
Published February 2nd 2010 by Atlantic Monthly Press (first published 2010)
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Jun 16, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A good book parts of which were excellent. Sam Sheridan used very much the same formula as he did in Fighters Heart. Talking to the leading trainers and fighters in different combat sports. The main problem for me was that there was not too much new information in the book from Fighters Heart. This book was more along the lines of what trainers are looking for while they are training their fighters. The thing is when you are talking tot he top trainers, talking about their top fighters, these gu ...more
Peter Derk
Aug 02, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: reviewed
What’s weird about this book is that I can’t really imagine anyone reading it without being much interested in fighting. What’s REALLY weird about THAT is that I don’t have much interest in fighting. Not on this level, anyway, with descriptions of people I’ve never heard of doing things that are difficult to imagine. Just trying to understand what’s going on, my recent Google search history must look like that of a guy prepping to street fight his way across South America. The long way.

What I WI
Jul 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing
The Fighter's Mind is an outstanding book, a collection of essays by Sam Sheridan, each focussed on a different fighting discipline, such as Brazilian jiu-jitsu and boxing (with occasional essays focussed on non-fighting sports, such as long-distance running). Throughout the book, Sheridan is trying to unravel the mystery of what drives a fighter to continually put their life at risk in pursuit of a goal that can bring them little more in return than physical and mental injury. This book is wond ...more
Shawn  Stone
I’ve read many books on the mental art of toughness, discipline development and sports psychology, so I wasn’t expecting too much from this except for perhaps a synthesis and reframing of the varied existing theories applied to fighting. What I walked away with was any number of game-changing insights and lessons learned on how to develop and appreciate the importance of the mind when applied to any endeavour, including my own personal passion of bodybuilding and strength training.

Yes, to call
Leo Polovets
Jul 11, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This book is an excellent look into how fighters think about all aspects of fighting, including training, fighting under pressure, winning, and losing. Each chapter contains bits and pieces of interviews with great fighters, coaches, and artists, and the author weaves the quotes and ideas into a larger, cohesive narrative.

What I really enjoyed about the book was that on the surface it's about the mentality of fighting, but it's not really about fighting -- it's about becoming better at whatever
Nov 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book was even better than I expected. It was not just about combat sport individuals from the view point of their training and how they got to where they are but an insight as to why they travelled the road to lead them to where they are.

I liked that it encompassed individuals that competed in many different sports from MMA to Boxing to JiuJitsu to Chess and even an Ultra Marathon runner. All of these individuals the writer showed have a commonality in their love of what they do.

What I als
Nov 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
A really nice read for fight enthusiasts.

Some times I felt Sam's style is a bit choppy, jumping from a story to a quote to a thought without giving clear "knowledge" or a coherent idea. Sometimes I also felt that spending time with such legendary fighters and trainers could have been presented in a better way. That is the only negative remark I have. Otherwise, the book got better and better. My favorite chapters are those about Greg Jakson and John Waitzkin.
The book covers a variety of mental,
Aug 06, 2017 rated it liked it
Glad this book exists, and some of the essays were illuminating, but I wished that the insights were pulled together a little more by the author, rather than relying on us reading each essay for each fighter/trainer's experience and asking us to make the links. About half way through I found myself skimming chapters and jumping to the fighters I was particularly interested in, because it felt like a bit of a slog and as a result I'm fairly sure I missed some good points. It was likely just not q ...more
Jul 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
Very good book once I got into it. For some reason, it took me a couple of chapters and was one of those books I would put down for a while and pick back up later. Once I got into it though, I really enjoyed the book. Good insight into the lives of fighters I had heard a lot about and watched but never got into the personal side. As a fan of MMA during the early days, most of the chapters covered fighters I had heard of and also added a few I had not heard of. Of particular interest to me was th ...more
Oct 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: adult-life
I don't dislike the book - Sheridan does his research and it's an interesting topic - but for fuck's sake, get an editor, dude! There're typos on nearly every page, and some paragraphs I had to re-read 2 and 3 times before I understood what the fuck the author was trying to say. I can't believe this book was sent to print in such crappy shape.
Ben Vogel
Jan 25, 2018 rated it liked it
Good book with insights into the mental toughness required to train, focus, and perform in an arena with severe consequences of bodily harm. Lessons conveyed in The Fighter's Mind certainly apply to more endeavors and occupations than just fighting, but certainly this book will mean more to those familiar with or fans of mixed martial arts.
Dawid Milewski
Mar 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A must listen/read for combat sports athletes.
Scott Wozniak
Mar 20, 2017 rated it liked it
This book had some fascinating accounts of how the world's best fighters manage the mental part of their work. Yes--real fighters including formal martial artists, boxers, mixed martial artists, etc. There are some great stories--but the author offered almost nothing in terms of extra insight beyond what the fighters said. The content was barely cooked--maybe seared on the edges--but mostly I had to do my own cooking to come up with deeper insights.
Jun 12, 2017 rated it liked it
Some good insights. Focuses mostly on the MMA world.
Fabian Il.
Mar 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
Great read not only for people intetested im MMA but in sports in general.
Jordan Shipman
Jan 08, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book and "On The Warrior's Path" are my top 2 books I've ever read on fighting/martial arts. I think this follow up to "A Fighter's Heart" by Sheridan is even better. The book is full of insights from some of the greatest names in the history of the sport. If there was ever a book I've read that got to the why of fighting this is the one.
Oct 28, 2012 rated it really liked it
The Fighter's Mind is a book about competition fighters, mostly mixed martial arts fighters, and how they think about their sports. While the book includes an ultra-marathoner and a chess champion turned martial artist, it is mostly MMA guys, but with an open mind, anyone interested in excellence can take something away from this book.

First, though, let me caution the reader about the book. There are no simple answers to metnal toughness, no summation paragraphs of 12 easy tools. Those books are
Steve Rider
Dec 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: parenting
"The world is made of fire" is the translation of the tattoo on Sam Sheridan, author of The Fighter's Mind: Inside the Mental GameSuch an outlook sets the stage for a book I downloaded for two reasons, because it was offered cheap from Audible, and it sounded interesting. I am pleased to say that the this book did not disappoint and I'd encourage anyone who considers themselves a competitor, or a parent of a competitor to consider reading.

While the book revolves around fighting, it does a grea
May 26, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
The crux of the book is that the author is searching for the key to the mental strength all great fighters - and other kinds of athletes - apparently exhibit which drives them to keep pursuing their fights. The stories presented all have pearls of wisdom here and there and the final chapter attempts to tie a lot of it together, but I wouldn't necessarily say this answer is any deeper than the usual vague platitudes everyone tends to throw around when they want to sound deep (or at least not stup ...more
Bryce Rausch
Dec 06, 2012 rated it really liked it
Unlike others sports books I've read where the author is a "fly on the wall", Sam Sheridan places himself not only in the story while profiling these world class athletes, but he trains with them. As a reader, when Sam writes about going to Thailand to train muy Thai he takes me with him and I feel like I'm the one training in Thailand (minus the jet lag and knees to the face). This isn't just a book profiling famous fighters, it's a book uncovering what is going on behind those eyes, which othe ...more
Feb 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
In The Fighter's Mind, Sam Sheridan follows up his previous work by digging into the question of how great fighters think. Where A Fighter's Heart is mostly about Sheridan and his own experiences, The Fighter's Mind is essentially a collection of interviews and talks with various combat athletes and coaches, along with a few less combatively oriented candidates, like ultrarunner David Horton.

I unashamedly love this book. It's great. I say that as someone who believes profoundly in the supreme im
Jan 26, 2010 rated it it was amazing
The Fighter’s Mind is an incredible look at the mental part of competition and life. Through the lens of combat sports, Sam Sheridan goes around the world in search of answers to various questions about how top personalities think about fighting. The book is laid out in the form of short sections about each of the people that Sam talks to. People like Dan Gable, Freddie Roach, Greg Jackson, Renzo Gracie, and Randy Couture answer Sheridan’s excellent questions with thoughtful and insightful respo ...more
Zach Roeder
Nov 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing
The Fighter's Mind: Inside the Mental Game by Sam Sheridan is a Nonfiction book about Sam traveling all over talking to many greats from MMA to wrestling, to marathon runners. This book is a really great read for anyone that is a fan of sports. This book is written very well and I like how Sam tells you about the people he met and the things he learned from all of the different top athletes he was able to talk to about their experiences. The reason I liked these parts and they made it worth read ...more
Jul 11, 2012 rated it really liked it
This is an exceptionally well researched compilation of interviews, anecdotes, philosophy, and psychological studies, concerning the mental aspect of fighting (boxing, MMA, wrestling, martial arts). Each chapter features a different fighter complete with bio and interviews. Some fighters and trainers you may have heard of, some you may not, most are legends within the fighting world: Couture, Gracie, Shamrock and others. Sheridan is a Harvard grad as well as a trained MMA fighter, so he brings s ...more
Aug 02, 2011 rated it did not like it
At the end of this book, I understood that this was a sequel. Maybe the first book had all the good material, because this one read like a collection of superficial vignettes. I wrestle myself, and I'd bought this book in the hope of learning how to become mentally stronger, but was disappointed.
The author is too much in awe of his UFC heroes to probe any deeper than the platitudes which are being served verbatim, without reflection or analysis by the author, in his conversations with them. The
Chiara Cokieng
Mar 02, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: psychology, fighting
Sheridan was really figuring out the truth about how fighters think, instead of filling in the blanks of a narrative or waxing philosophical. Should a fighter be aggressive or relaxed? Can he do both? How fine is the line between being mentally tough and getting injured? Is your pain, your fatigue, all mental?

As a wrestler, my favorite chapter was, of course, Dan Gable's: "These kids thought they were working hard, thought they trained tough, but there were depths unplumbed. Gable used himself a
John Schwabacher
Mar 01, 2010 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this book as much as I did his first. While he doesn't really come up with a set of hard and fast principles, he makes a good exploration of what is different about the way a really top fighter thinks about his (no "her" in this book, sadly) art.
Each chapter focusses on a different individual, most spectacular competitors or trainers, each with thoughtful ideas about their fight game. BJJ fans will be stoked to read about Marcelo Garcia and Renzo Gracie. I was blown away learning about
Mar 21, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is more about psychology than it is about fighting. It is amazing how much of what you learn from the mental aspect of fighting that you can apply to everyday life. And I'm not talking about "mental toughness" or any of that hoodoo. You really have to read the book to understand what I mean. Sam talks to all types of fighters, from meat-head wrestlers who you may not believe have much insight to share (but they do) to chess prodigy Josh Waitzkin.

I made a lot of fascinating realizations
May 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
" takes three people to make you into the best person you can be. Somebody better than you, someone equal to you, and someone less than you. ...I always stay a student."

"There's always a point at which people will break. That's why you train mental toughness. Everyone will break--there's not a man alive that can't be broke."

Just a few of my favorite quotes/ideas from a great book that delves into the minds of some of the toughest guys in MMA and an one excellent ultra-runner. A worthwhile
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After high school Sam went into the Merchant Marines, then quit and spent some time traveling Europe. He went to Harvard, also working a summer on the largest cattle ranch in Montana. Immediately after graduating, Sam took a job on a private sailing yacht for 18 months all the way to Australia. From there Sam went to Thailand, where he lived in a Muay Thai camp and fought, featuring on National Ge ...more
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“It's easy to do anything in victory. It's in defeat that a man reveals himself.” 5 likes
“A pet peeve of mine is when fans start griping about a fighter who lost making excuses. Of course he’s making excuses. This is his profession, he’s going to get back in there, and for his sanity and mental strength he needs to have a reason he can point to for his loss. If he didn’t make excuses, if he didn’t have a reason to think he can win next time, how could he ever fight again?” 0 likes
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